Covid-19: What Do We Know About 'IHU' Variant?

A new Covid-19 variant, B.1.640.2, has been detected in France. At the time of reporting, France has detected 12 patients near Marseille contracted this IHU variant of Covid-19.

"We indeed have several cases of this new variant in the Marseille geographical area," said Professor Philippe Colson, head of the Méditerranée Infection Foundation.

The IHU variant contains 46 mutations and is said to be more resistant to vaccines and more infectious.

Here's what we know about the IHU variant:

  • Variant IHU was discovered by Professor Philippe Colson of the Méditerranée Infection University Hospital Institute (IHU), which lends itself to the variant's name. It has been dubbed as B.1.640.2 by the team.
  • It contains 46 mutations, potentially more resistant to vaccines and more infectious.
  • The 12 cases since December 10 near Marseille spotted were reported, which the first case linked to having a travel record to Cameroon. 
  • The first case detected in mid-November 2021 had developed mild respiratory symptoms the day before diagnosis. Later, respiratory samples collected from seven other Covid-19 positive patients from the same area showed the same combination of mutations.
  • The strain carries the N501Y mutation, which was first seen on the Alpha variant, which could mean that the variant will be more transmissible.
  • The strain has the E484K mutation, which could potentially lead to more resistance to the Covid-19 vaccine.
  • So far, only France reported having the IHU variant.

France's public health agency had recently said that "62.4 per cent of tests showed a profile compatible with the Omicron variant".

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